Pups, like some peeps, have trouble
saying barking goodbye. Yep, dogs can suffer from separation anxiety just like us, and Watson has been showing signs of this since day one. With his being abandoned and alone for the first few weeks of his life, it isn’t out of the ordinary for him to think that we’re never coming back. Of course, we always come back, but just to make sure we never leave his side again, Watson shifts into shadow or clingy-monkey mode. (It’s really too adorable!)
Of course things like whining, whimpering and defying instructions when we are about to leave the apartment are expected. But when we can hear his cries and yelps pouring from his crate loud and clear into the parking lot (with all apartment windows closed), something is up. That’s the anxiety.
Crate training and the security it brings typically help reduce this nervousness, but for a while, we weren’t seeing results with Watso. Heck, he wouldn’t even go near his crate if he saw us putting shoes on or heard jingling keys. In fact, he’d hightail it (pun, intended) underneath the TV stand (where he can’t easily be reached) as if in protest to the possibility of our leaving. This never stopped us from actually doing what we needed to do, but it made leaving challenging.
This not only happened when both of us left, but if just one of us was headed to work or class or to run errands. You’d think that if he wasn’t going to be alone, he’d be calm and anxiety-free, but nope, there he was, barking his little head off.
Another indication of Watson’s anxiety is his uuuuuber excitement when either of us returns home. Whether we’re gone for five hours or 15 minutes, Watson greets us like we’ve been away for a million years. Yips, jumps, licks, and wiggly butt galore! If this doesn’t make someone feel good after a long day at work, then they’re officially off their rocker! But acknowledging this excitement can just reinforce the anxious behaviors, which isn’t ideal. So we try our darnedest not to react until he’s calmed down a smidge.
We were starting to get a little worried that his anxiety wasn’t lessening, but one day before Jake headed off to work, he picked up Mr. Koala, and Watson followed
the stuffed animal his best friend right into his crate. No barks, no cries, no sad-pup eyes, no seeking refuge beneath the TV. And this was no coincidence! It happened FOUR more times with both of us! Now, Watson simply follows the little marsupial (quick biology lesson: koalas aren’t bears) right into his crate with no ifs, ands, or buts. Thank you, Mr. Koala, AKA the miracle worker!
As for the over-excitement when we return home, he still gets riled up, but we’re constantly working against every instinct we have to pat his head, pick him up, nuzzle his nose, and lick kiss his furry little face right back. (Wish us luck, because honestly, who can ignore this wrinkly-whiskered face?!)